A Cancer Survivor Guide To Self-love
When you think of the popular term “self-love” it’s all about to love yourself more.
For a cancer survivor perspective, it’s more than that.
You see, for us, cancer is not only a battle of our physical body but also our mental health. And if you ask us how can we love ourselves while facing cancer?
Oh boy, that’s a very hard work to do!
Self-love is not only all about ourselves. It’s about working the hard work within and at the same time, giving back the love to the people surrounding us.
So, here are the self-love tips from a cancer survivor:
There is a power in representing yourself or your own view for the sake of YOU. Self-advocacy, in other words, “empowerment”.
Having cancer 3 years ago, it disabled my ability to speak up what I need or feel. You know, when you are being told by your doctor that you have cancer, it immediately mutes you by putting you into isolation and the rough journey has just begun.
However, I never chose to be trapped in the abyss of the isolation of cancer. So what I did, I took an active role in my diagnosis and treatment plan (especially I am residing in a foreign country, Vietnam, and language is the great barrier wherever I go).
I also made my own research, look for a cancer support group and ask to watch helpful videos to make myself educated about this rare cancer, sarcoma.
Self-advocacy simply means, you know yourself, know what you need and know how to get it. You don’t need to have cancer to apply self-advocacy. If the truth needs to be raised, be the voice. No one knows yourself better than YOU. Start practicing self-advocacy and never be afraid to ask.
Practicing guided imagery in other words guided meditation, visualization, mental rehearsal, and guided-hypnosis may do more than just help create a calm and relaxing state of mind.
In my own experience, I was able to discover the wonder of meditation when I was suffering PTSD after the completion of my cancer treatments. After my radiation therapy treatment was completely finished, I thought I was okay. Until then, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder comes in where it troubled me for almost 5 months. Then in the middle of looking for answers in order to get sleep or to be less anxious, I started doing this only through YouTube after I did some research.
So, as I keep telling people why do I meditate, they are also wondering what is the effect of this to myself. Let me tell this to you straight, I have never experience astral projection for the last 3 years I’ve been doing this. What does a meditation actually help me is to be able to watch myself in every action that I involve in the present moment, where I will be able to watch/observe how my mind is thinking and thus able to control it.
Yes, it does help me to be mindful. Mindfulness indeed – it is knowing what is going on at the moment. Being present with the “now” instead of looking back to the past.
So, why should we meditate? It is actually beneficial not only for someone who had cancer, but also to anyone because it helps to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression and choose to live in the moment and let tomorrow take care of itself.
Am I being delusional here? I never tell you that I am living a perfect life without any worries, problems or anxiety. But if you will be able to make meditation as a habit, no matter how rough your day will be, it will be more possible to see the bright side of a situation the moment you’ll open your heart and mind into changes and accept uncertainties are always there, lurking and ready to share a catastrophe with you.
Sleeping, resting or taking a nap is vital to someone who either a cancer patient or someone that is aiming for a healthier lifestyle. Well, we all love that, a healthier lifestyle. Who does not?
When we are stressed it is difficult sometimes to get enough sleep. Aside from being supported by some studies by the professionals that chronic sleep problem especially in older men and prostate cancer. Another study shows that your sleep may determine how well your body fights cancer and how mental well-being plays into cancer recovery and progression.
We all know that sleep plays a vital role in all of us in good health and well-being. If we get enough sleep especially at the right times, it can help protect our mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.
Most of the time, I am guilty about this. Like, right now, I am writing this article at half-past 2 in the morning and yes you are not alone to be still awake after midnight.
Nope, it isn’t healthy and good. But, yep! Just like you, I am trying, too!
A smile costs nothing but gives much. A smile can be a verb or noun, it’s a facial expression showing how kind and amusing you are where your lips turn up and the front teeth exposed.
My question is. Do you smile every day? Sounds impossible to do it every day right? But a smile can be a habit, too!
Have you seen a grumpy person lately? What do you think why that person can’t afford a smile even we all know that it’s free!
And yes, another way to love yourself is just simply to SMILE. Imagine yourself if you always frowning and angry? Do you feel healthy? Does it make your heart healthy? NO.
If you realize that you frown more than smiling – start making a new habit now. SMILE!
Keep a journal.
The onset from dealing with a cancer diagnosis is also the beginning of a lonely journey and battle. And writing had helped me express myself and process my emotions better.
Even for you, writing can bring many positive benefits. It can give voice to your different feelings and thoughts. It is a mean to express them especially when life becomes difficult to handle. It can also allow you to let go of your toxic emotions that were previously kept inside your heart. And opening yourself through writing can actually help you start to be healed emotionally especially.
You are not good at writing? Well, you don’t have to show it to people actually. If writing can help you process your emotions like what it does with mine, why not care to try? There’s nothing to find out if you will not risk trying to do something you haven’t done yet – like writing and keeping a journal.
Be a better empath.
It’s never too late to build relationships but it should start with you first. Be a better empath to anyone, be the kind of person you would like to be with and most especially, love yourself first.
The most dangerous enemy of our mental health that is brought by cancer is isolation. Nevertheless, it is not only cancer patients feel isolated, but it could also be anyone. And sometimes we forget the importance of empathy. And we tend to overlook that empathy is real love.
If we can’t show real love to ourselves, we can’t expect that we can love someone else. Because how you treat yourself reflect how you let others treat you.
Know what is your “WHAT NOW” Moment. The phrase tells us the question “what will happen NOW”. Now – living in the moment.
Have you heard this famous quote? “If something that you’re doing doesn’t challenge you, then it doesn’t change you.”
There is always a room for improvement, well even for us, cancer survivors!
I will not see any improvement in my life if I stick to my comfort zone especially right after I face this cancer. You know how my self-esteem dropped very low. Someone who may know me can imagine the opposite me now than before with very low self-esteem.
How do you pay attention to the present despite you experience a lot of traumatic experiences? I hope you don’t limit the challenges you encounter in life. You need a healthy dose of normal stress in our lives, after all.
Pay It Forward.
After I learned a valuable lesson after my traumatic experiences especially with cancer, I was then able to share this lesson and that is through blogging. And you know what, I realized that when I started this project of mine “Pay Forward” this is not just a simple passion. This becomes my obsession! As you can see, I am still here writing my never-ending blog just for you!
Well, this obsession does not end by writing blogs alone. This “pay it forward project” continues by losing myself in the service of others. And, by losing myself in the service of others, this is where the “Paying Forward” in Vietnam comes in. I have been living in Vietnam for already 5 years and my cancer diagnosis & surgical removal of the tumor was also found out & done here. So, the idea to give back especially to children with cancer is not very easy to do, not with the help of everyone who is willing to change their mindset about cancer here in Vietnam.
And as The Cancer Voice Vietnam will mark its 1st year, I can say that I am so proud to everyone who is part of this project, especially to the Vietnamese who are eager to raise awareness about cancer, one family at a time.
Embrace self-love. Find some small ways how to practice it every-day. And maybe, you can start it within yourself.
She can, why can’t you?
Share your reasons for self- love and let the world know and let’s celebrate together!
Cielo Superticioso, is the author of The Cancer Voice Asia created last August 2017. Cielo focuses on the remarkable benefits of sharing her story and uses her own journey as a means to help you with yours.